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Hours of Operation: Mon - Fri 8:00am - 8:00pm

Shakespeare & Company, Lenox, MA

hang by debbie tucker green

Direcred by Regge Life.      Reviewed by J. Peter Bergman.

"Today is all about you. . . And we want to focus on you"

        debbie tucker green's play "hang" which is now on stage in the Tina Packer Playhouse at Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, Massachusetts is a play I have waited all my life to see. That it is a relatively recent work by this British playwright doesn't compute. Somehow I knew it was coming and I'd see it. This is just the most natural, normal play of all time. Its three people are people, not characters. 


        Its situation is as right as it is wrong.  Dialogue flows the way real people talk and if there is poetry in it that poetry emerges through situation and character, not from a pen intent on setting a time, place and need. Its rhythms, pauses, hesitations, and philosophies speak mountains in minimalization.  When, at the end you stand up ready to leave the room, you pause and take a breath as though you had been in that room, had endured that confrontation and could now find your way in the world unaided by well-meaning strangers.

Kristin Wpld as One; Cloteal L. Horne as Three; Photo: Daniel Rader

Kristin Wold as One; Photo: Daniel Rader

        The dialogue by debbie tucker green doesn'r seem to have been written down at all but feels improvised and natural and genuine. It is a written script, however, and that is part of what makes this pay so special. In the hands, and out of the mouths, of three special actors the reality of what is said becomes even more realistic.  Kristin Wold, as One, leads the play with the most banal and simple lines and she sets the tone for the evening. One is an official and she has her methods, her agenda for how to lead her guest into and through the experience ahead. She is ready to handle any variation which might occur and she has control over what might become emotional but hopefully won't. She is the perfect government executive,, dressed for the occasion - or any occasion - and well-prepared for the human elements that could confuse the event. Wold is superb, her voice well-modulated and peaceful. Her body language is reserved and cool.  She seems ready for anything but she still needs some mental reassurance as she reserves her ammunition for as long as possible. 

Cloteal L. Horne as Three; Photo: Daniel Rader

        Cloteal L. Horne is a-glow as Three. Her initial reticence to speak, to be baited, played with or confused about her situation speaks louder than any words would. Once she falls into her unavoidable circumstance she begins to take hold of things and move from the stage left chair straight into the center of the action. This actress takes command of her superiors in this place and position and the battle is on for supremacy. Her battle equipment is confession and her aim is to acquire a confession that One holds out as a temptation and a reward. Horne exhibits multiple strengths and ultimately she trades one sort of surrender to force another.  It is a colossal performance by a true artist. 

        As Two, Ken Cheeseman plays the ultimate diplomatic civil servant. He is one third aggressive, one third compliant, one third humane. He makes sympathy seem confusing for it never feels genuineThis quality in him leaves One nervous and Three unsure. He says all the right things at the right time as though he was following a set pattern without variation. Cheeseman has a smooth quality in his performance that is appealing and unnerving at the same time. His style of work connection with One is almost comic and at the same time is vaguely threatening. He plays the perfect  opposite to One and together they forge an ideal corporate-style pair of confusers.

Ken Cheeseman as Two; Photo: Daniel Rader

        What's going on, you ask? It's not my intention to tell you more than I have already.  But I will tell you this: Director Regge Life, who brought this play to Shakespeare & Company, has also brought it to magnificent life. He has kepe things direct and honest, forged the relationships you see on the Packer stage and kept the author's written intentions as written. He instills echoes of our times and current situations in the work and no matter what you may think about politics, crimes, lies and truths in your day-to-day work, you will find a touch of yourself in this drama. He sets us an example of how great theater keeps us aware of our world. He is aided by Patrick Brennan's stark set, Amie Jay's most appropriate costumes, and James Binoski's minimalist lighting. In short these talented people, cast included, have brought us wonderful theatre. Absolutely wonderfu! 

+ 09/12/2021 +

The cast: Kristen Wold, Ken Cheseman, Cloteal L. Horne; Photo: Dasniel Rader

hang plays in the Tina Packer Playhouse at Shakespeare & Company, 70 Kemble Street, Lenox, MA through the month of September and into October. For information and tickets call the box office at 413-637-3353 or go to www.shakespeare.org